It always starts with sheep, woollen’t it? (a poem)

Make of this what you will…

‘Make an example of the shepherd’
I thought you said

The sheep stared
at nothing
as usual

You sneezed
but didn’t do the vampire thing
instead sneezing into your opened palm
which I then refused to shake

It’s hard to take instruction
from old pictures of yourself

Everything they have to teach
is outdated
and more likely to indict the time
from which they came

‘Beef it, Brownie’
could only make sense
to a thirteen-year-old
in 1976

I frequently live in the past
though I can never decide
in which neighborhood I want to stay

So I never bother with packing
it’s so much easier
to abandon everything and start over
than it is to take everything with you
and pretend all of it still matters

In 1976
I had braces
and drank too much Mr. Pibb

Both things
turned out to be useless
not unlike a shepherd
in a city on the west coast
of the United States of America
in 2018

The sheep are starting to feel uncomfortable
in the heat of another new summer

If they had been around for the last one
they might not be surprised

Either way
somebody made an example of the shepherd
so he retired to a small village in Nicaragua
where he spends his days
making prank greeting cards for members of Congress

Because he’s no longer in the country
they can’t kick him out
so they must live the remainder of their lives
with the knowledge
that Mrs. Helen Frobischer of Spring Glen, Pennsylvania
doesn’t really think they’re doing an excellent job

And they wonder if it isn’t too late
to move to Ireland and become a shepherd

(22 June 2018)